TWO WORLDS CALLED HOME is inspired by composer Caleb Vaughn-Jones’ nine-year journey as an American living abroad in South Africa. In 2011, Vaughn-Jones was a gifted cellist from Baltimore who felt a calling toward the unknown. He abandoned the traditional path of an American musician building a career and instead moved to Port Elizabeth, South Africa to teach music. In this album, Vaughn-Jones employs his skill as a cellist to express the joys and sacrifices he encountered on this incredible adventure.
Today, Caleb is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about his early insatiable desire for composition, and how his journey in South Africa inspired this album…
Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?
As a kid, I really looked up to Wynton Marsalis and I still do. He brings such a high level of artistry to everything he touches. In my opinion, he is still underrated as a composer, but I think this is because his trumpet playing has overshadowed his compositional skills.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I must have been 12 or 13 when I realized that I wanted to pursue a music career. However, I didn’t have a clue what that meant. I didn’t have mentors who could guide me. I just knew I needed to practice a lot and that’s what I did.
In elementary school I was always making up songs and beatboxing or whistling a new tune. It was like an itch I needed to scratch. At one point, I struggled to pay attention to the teacher. It was so bad that my fourth grade teacher Ms. Johnson repeatedly sent me to the nurse’s office to have my hearing checked. Each time I passed the hearing test with no problem.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Tortilla chips!!! I can eat them without salsa or guacamole. I just love them! I think I was deprived of decent nachos while living in South Africa and now I’m making up for lost time.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
It would be great to go to my hometown (Charleston SC) and create some music there. I have not had a chance to do much there as a musician since I was a teenager. I would like to connect with my old friends and the people who had an influence on me growing up while I am working on music. Just thinking about it inspires me!
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
My favorite musical moment on the album is the third movement of the Sonata for Cello and Piano in C. I think this movement best highlights my compositional style while using the traditional sonata form. The angst and unsettling chords in the theme was my attempt at conveying to the listener the feeling of having to make an important decision that will affect you and those you care about.
What does this album mean to you personally?
It is quite simple. This album is my story of leaving home and finding a new one; though very different, it was extremely beautiful. The goal of this album was to compose music for a broader audience and weave in some African music to help depict my journey living in South Africa.